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Examines the health claims of modern yoga, drawing on scientific and cultural research to offer advice on how to recognize authentic yoga practice and gain actual benefits.
January 15, 2013 • In fiction, Karen Thompson Walker's sci-fi debut and Vladimir Nabokov's unfinished final novel arrive in paperback. February 7, 2012 • Yoga can be extremely beneficial, but it also can be quite dangerous.
Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.
A new study found that yoga can be just as beneficial to your heart as your jazzerfitcyclezumbathon or any other aerobic activity you put yourself through. Here's some news to brighten your day: science has provided yet another reason to practice yoga. Just about everyone's heard the saying "fake it til you make it." But can you fake feeling powerful and confident? When we're not writing about wacky yoga style mashups or the yoga pants biz, we tend to post a lot about yoga-related scientific studies. The stretches and contortions integral to the ancient Eastern practice of yoga were designed to blend body and soul, meshing the physical with the mental and spiritual. According to the American Council on Exercise, more than 11 million Americans practice yoga and find that the poses (called asanas) and chants strengthen their bodies, center their minds and help them relax.
There are several types of yoga, but the physical benefits are similar regardless of the type practiced, experts say.
Several recent studies drive home yoga's positive effects on the brain, central nervous system and immune system, said Dr. Other research indicates long-term yoga participants significantly gain bone density over two years' time, which Fishman attributes to the effects of muscles working against gravity. Each type of yoga has a slightly different focus, and one may be more appropriate than another for people who have certain interests and abilities. Ashtenga: The oldest form of yoga, Ashtenga is also known as "power yoga" because it is fast-paced and rigorous. Vinyasa: Focus is on how breathing affects the mind and body, Vinyasa is based on a series of poses called the sun salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath.
Iyengar: This practice usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods, which is good for those with injuries or chronic illnesses who want to become more flexible. Kundalini: Combining rapid, repetitive movements rather than drawn-out poses, Kundalini includes chanting throughout the session.
Bikram: Also called "hot yoga" because it's done in rooms where the temperature is at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), Bikram "is very acceptable to people in the West, because it omits headstands and handstands," Larkham said. Practicing Bikram, however, may be dangerous for those with high blood pressure, a heart condition, diabetes or another chronic illness , according to the Cleveland Clinic. Larkham and Kaloudis said each of the three categories of movements incorporated into most yoga types standing poses, inversions, and back and forward bends stimulates different bodily systems. For example, standing poses strengthen leg muscles, open the hips and flex the back, improving circulation to the lower extremities, Larkham said.
Upside-down poses such as headstands, called inversions, increase blood flow to the heart, lungs and brain.
Back bends make the spine more flexible, and stimulate the central nervous system, and could help people deal with negative emotions, Larkham said. Forward bends are "calming and restorative for exhaustion and blood pressure," Larkham said. Poses that cause you contract muscles and use balance, combined with the heat have been shown to have the same effects on heart rate as running or any other cardio activity. Hot yoga has the benefit of strengthening essential body parts such as the spine and injury prone spots to prevent these happenings. The moral of this blog post is to go to hot yoga, or at the minimum, regular yoga! Remember, when attending hot yoga, make sure you drink plenty of fluids continually throughout the day, get energy from healthy foods, and definitely bring a towel to wipe up your sweat. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Broad examines the pleasures and pitfalls of the practice in his latest book, The Science of Yoga. The bending, stretching, and deep breathing have become a kind of oxygen for the modern soul, as a tour of the neighborhood shows rather quickly.

A study found that yoga can help reduce cancer-related fatigue and lower levels of inflammation in the body. And actually, the more yoga that was done, the better off the cancer survivors were. As it turns out, it may be restorative yoga that you really need to lose weight and feel better, according to a new study. Modern-day science confirms that the practice also has tangible physical benefits to overall health benefits that can include improved brain function and denser bones.
He has used yoga in his medical practice to treat myriad conditions, including multiple sclerosis , carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and rotator cuff syndrome, he said.
Because of this, students sometimes are injured doing poses beyond their range of flexibility. They also "stimulate lymph to move toxins out of the body, which is beneficial for the lymphatic system," Kaloudis said. I know that there are more benefits, but as I said, I’m no expert, so I had to look online for some information. In fact, according to Yoganonymous, a 90 minute class of hot yoga can burn up to 1,000 calories. Sweating in large amounts releases toxins through the skin that would otherwise be in our bodies. It’s been proven to be good for arthritis patients, sufferers of carpal tunnel, and people nursing joint injuries. Although unlikely, if any of you ever end up in the Capital District in New York and are looking for a yoga studio, go to the Hot Yoga Spot— it’s the best! Not to make your blood boil, ahem, but research is showing that your internal body temperature and heart-rate could reach super dangerous levels in this type of class causing the risk of heat-related illness if you're not careful.
Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes out of habit, and sometimes to annoy our squeamish friend who equates popping knuckles to nails on a chalkboard.
Heck, it's even one of the subplots of the new women's prison-centered Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
My friends begged me all winter long to go to class with them at the local studio in my town but the straw that broke my back and forced me to go was my best friend’s mother. Although gym rats and lots of athletes I know bash on yoga, it really does help improve strength. I’m able to focus on something so intensely for an hour a day that I forget about all the stresses of my life. One might not think that yoga is a hard form of exercise, but believe me, after about ten minutes in class, you will be sweating from places you didn’t know existed. Each pose has its own organ benefits, due to the massaging of the organs in positions you wouldn’t normally be in. Senior centers and children's museums offer the stretching as a fringe benefit a€” Hey, parents, fitness can be fun. I got into it quickly and started taking classes four times a week and started referring all of my friends to yoga.
I know as a non-scientist, there are benefits to sweating a lot, I’m just not sure what. I also love seeing progress in my yoga practice, between weeks of classes, and just in a single class itself.
It also helped that I think yoga clothes are super cute and I love the way it makes me feel.
I also know that yoga makes you more flexible, and the heat helps muscles become more bendy and work better. Hot yoga is a general umbrella of classes but can refer to different types of heated yoga classes, postures, temperatures and tempos.
Heat is also why we are encouraged to stretch and do other exercises after building up our heat rate, when we’re sweaty.
From my experience, doing yoga in a heated room increases the intensity of the workout and your overall heart rate, making it harder than normal yoga. Hence, many people might feel threatened or even afraid to try yoga because they believe they aren’t flexible enough. What they don’t know is that yoga would improve their flexibility which could in return make them like yoga more, recommending it to other people.

After leaving yoga class, I always have peace of mind, a feeling I encourage everyone to search for.
The organizers of writing and painting workshops have their pupils do yoga to stir the creative spirit.
Hot yoga creates an emptiness in the mind even more than non-heated classes because all I think about is the heat and the poses.
In New York City, where I work, it seems like a yoga studio is doing business every few blocks. In 2010, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, began illustrating its parking tickets with a series of calming yoga poses. It's unplugged and natural, old and centered a€” a kind of anti-civilization pill that can neutralize the dissipating influence of the Internet and the flood of information we all face. Kripalu, on more than three hundred rolling acres of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, was once a Jesuit seminary. Michelle Obama made it part of Let's Move a€” her national program of exercise for children, which seeks to fight obesity. The First Lady talks about yoga on school visits and highlights the discipline at the annual Easter Egg Roll, the largest public event on the White House social calendar. Starting in 2009, the egg roll has repeatedly featured a Yoga Garden with colorful mats and helpful teachers.
A tougher demonstration featured five yogis simultaneously upending themselves in Headstands. The children watched, played along, and took home a clear message about what the President and First Lady considered to be a smart way of getting in shape. The Yoga Health Foundation, based in California, puts the current number of practitioners in the United States at twenty million and around the globe at more than two hundred and fifty million.
To spread the word, the foundation organizes Yoga Month a€” a celebration every September that blankets the United States with free yoga classes, activities, and health fairs. The New York Times, where I work, has run hundreds of articles and in 2010 began a regular column, Stretch. It has profiled everything from studios that offer hot yoga in overheated rooms to a gathering of thousands in Central Park that its organizers called the largest yoga class on record. The allure was so great that many people got stuck in entrance lines before a downpour chased everybody away. Merchants sell mats, clothes, magazines, books, videos, travel junkets, creams, healing potions, shoes, soy snacks, and many accessories deemed vital to practice a€” as well as classes. Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, a hot style, copyrighted his sequence of yoga poses and had his lawyers send out hundreds of threatening notices that charged small studios with violations. In the United States, yoga entrepreneurs have sought to enhance their exclusivity by registering thousands of patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Its upscale, well-educated individuals are drawn to sustainable living and ecological initiatives.
According to marketing studies, they tend to buy clothes for their children from such places as Mama's Earth, its goods made from organic cotton, hemp, and recycled materials. Another is that women make up the vast majority of its practitioners, a fact that dramatically influences the nature of its marketplace. Women buy more books than men, read more, spend more on consumer goods, and pay more attention to their health and appearance.
Hundreds of ads promote skin-care products, sandals, jewelry, natural soaps, special vitamins and enzymes, alternative cures and therapies, smiling gurus, and ecofriendly cars. One of my favorites is Hard Tail, a clothing line whose ads feature attractive women in striking poses.
Recently, a market analyst identified Lulu's signature item as the $98 Groove Pant, "cut with all kinds of special gussets and flat seams to create a snug gluteal enclosure of almost perfect globularity, like a drop of water." All of which bears on what yoga (as opposed to its accessories) does for the body and mind or, more precisely, on what gurus, spas, books, instructional videos, merchants, television shows, magazines, resorts, and health clubs say that it does.

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